This morning I opened a brand new can of ground coffee I bought while storm shopping, and I slowly and deeply inhaled the scent of comfort with my eyes closed. There is nothing like it. The smell of coffee is erotic and promising, and warm. Brewing a full pot on a day off is like booking a vacation. It pleases me and it makes me feel good.
I filled the basket filter and turned on my 19-year-old coffee maker, pressing the power button that was once coated in clear supple plastic, now crispy and split and tinted yellow. I slid down my snow covered front porch steps taking the dogs out, tunneled a 100’ long path to bring warm water out to the hens, and came back inside frozen from sub-zero New England blizzard wind. I was expecting a hot pot of coffee.
Curiously, I didn’t smell the intoxicating aroma I expected. The light was on, but there was no coffee. The burner was not even a hint of warm. It was most certainly plugged in. The light was on, but there was no coffee. I thought I did something wrong. I checked the plug, emptied the water, refilled it, set the auto timer and waited. Nothing. I emptied it again then turned it on…nothing.
My heart literally broke, and I actually cried. Which, I rarely do. Very rarely.
I am shockingly sad. Not in a ‘record-breaking-New England-snowfall-and-no-coffee’ kind of way. After all, I can make tea, or use the Keurig to get my shoveling strength. I’m sad in a ‘been-with-me-forever-and-always-comforted-me-I’m-gonna-miss-the-hell-out-of-you-and-all-the-attached-memories’ kind of way.
I actually cried over the loss of my white plastic programmable Betty Crocker 12-cup basket coffee maker. I’m a special kind of crazy.
This coffee maker is attached to so many memories and good feelings. I remember the day I got it. I remember the aisle I stood in. I remember rationalizing the then enormous purchase. Dunkin’ Donuts was too expensive for me, and I no longer lived near a Tedeschi’s, who sold coffee for $0.35 a cup. It was a short term splurge with longer-term pay-off. It was a grown up decision and a grown up purchase. I think it cost me a whopping $20.
That year, when I filed my taxes, my gross income was less than $10,000. I was so poor that I rarely ate more than what was left on the plate of my toddler when she was finished. Coffee though, warmed and filled my belly, and I felt good. I brewed before work coffee when I was 19, working full-time days at K-Mart. I brewed before bed coffee at 11 p.m. after working part-time nights at Marshall’s. I owned exactly two cobalt blue glass coffee mugs that warmed my freezing cold hands after walking home from work. I won’t even get into how unbelievably perfect coffee was with a cigarette on the porch.
I bought frozen coffee cream at Shaw’s Supermarket for $0.25. It took some getting used to. It was gross at first, and I’m convinced it was made with some kind of oil. Yes, I said frozen cream. Yes they make that. At least they did then. And no, $0.25 is not a typo. Milk was expensive and only for my daughter. If you drank the last of the milk in my house, death would be easier. I poured half cream, half coffee and one Equal for my then boyfriend Christopher Jacobs. His reaction to coffee prepared exactly how he liked it was so important to me. He was there when I bought it. She was the last thing I packed in that apartment after he died, and I kept his coffee mug.
She was there for all my holiday meals, and various parties throughout the years. On Christmas morning, nothing happens until my coffee is made. Not a single gift is opened until momma is on the couch with a mug and a blanket. And, this coffeemaker is the one that brewed the Christmas morning coffee. During the inevitable New England hurricane or winter storm, I always brewed a pot and put it in the fridge, so that if I lost power, I could warm it up on the gas stove. Boy did that little trick get me through some crappy heat-less days (You’re welcome for that tip.)
I made room for it when I lived in an apartment that didn’t have a counter top. Counter space in any home is precious and she always had a place. When I got the Keurig, I admit it…I put her on top of the fridge for a bit, but she came back down on weekends and work-at-home days, when a full hot pot was necessary. Eventually, she kept a spot next to sink. I even bought a carafe once so that I didn’t waste electricity keeping the pot warm.
To me, coffee is personal. When I am alone it’s a treat to myself. Making a cup of coffee at home means I’m going to sit still for a bit. I’m going to savor it while it’s hot. I’ll hold the cup under my face and inhale the steam. It pleases me. Offering coffee to friends is also personal. It’s me offering up comfort. Me telling you I want you to feel good, and relaxed, and comfortable while you’re here.
It’s funny how when you’re a touch of crazy, you associate “shit” with things. This was one of my things that had good memories. I’m not a hoarder, but I definitely attach feelings to things. I’m sure that has a fucking name or comes with a diagnosis. Whatever. And, I know I ‘ll have to buy another one. For right now, I’m just mourning the loss and the memories I didn’t realize I attached to her. I’m also thinking about how ironic it is that the very last bit of coffee in the house was her very last pot.
She lasted 19 years. Through two children and four moves. I saved her original box until I bought my house, and proudly threw it away thinking, “I’ll never have to pack you again.” I don’t own many things that have traveled with me this long. She was with me exactly half of my life.